23 Apr 2010

Moose Fun

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Baby moose (and family) discover the joys of a lawn sprinkler, Anchorage, Alaska, June 2008. In Europe, they call these elk.

3:52 video

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I don’t know why the term “wapiti” never caught on for our native species of the genus Cervus. That species is not the same as the red deer, whose males are called stags and whose females are called hinds, from Europe and Western Asia, but it can hybridize with wapiti and produce fertile offspring. The wapiti live in northeastern Asia as well as North America, and it would make more sense to call them by that name.

Teddy Roosevelt called them wapiti.

The moose or elk is the species called Alces alces. Anyone who speaks Latin knows that sounds very similar to the world “elk,” which is “Elch” in German, “elg” in Norwegian, and Älg in Swedish. (It’s called eland in Dutch, but in Afrikaans that became the name for a huge antelope, which are called “eland antelope” in the direct translation from the Dutch).

It’s only we North Americans who call them moose. It’s one of those many species that people didn’t recognize as similar to an Old World form, like calling our common species of Turdus a robin, even though anyone can see it’s very similar to a European blackbird.


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